Sunday, September 14, 2008

Going Carless and the Governor Blames MBTA for Budget Issues

Good morning.

First, we would like to extend our sympathies to the families and friends of the people killed in Friday's Metrolink commuter rail accident in Los Angeles.

For the past two days, The Boston Globe has written two different articles about Boston-area residents who have relinquished their cars and are now getting around either by bike, foot or public transportation.

Today's Starts & Stops column published results from a new survey which said that Boston is the most cost-effective place to live in the US without a car. This survey was compiled by the American Public Transportation Association based on the cost of monthly transit passes, parking rates, and a driving formula developed by AAA. Noah Bierman explains some of the different factors that went into this analysis and his subsequent article in today's Starts & Stops is about some of the difficulties Boston-area residents face when going car-free. There was also an article about the planned cuts to some MBTA bus routes.

Yesterday The Globe profiled some local area families who are living without a car.

On Friday, WBZ-TV Channel 4 aired a report in which Governor Deval Patrick blames MBTA GM Daniel Grabauskas for the T's financial woes. Governor Patrick's new appointee to the MBTA Board, Janice Loux, put some pressure on Grabauskas at the T's monthly meeting. The Governor has acknowledged that a long-term solution to the T's financial situation needs to be developed.

Open Media Boston published an editorial on Friday stating that the MBTA needs debt relief. Also on Friday, the Taunton Daily Gazette wrote about the ongoing plans for the southeastern Massachusetts commuter rail extension.

Finally, DM News (a publication for marketers) published an article on Friday about the MBTA's direct mail campaign to promote the corporate pass program. They hired an advertising agency based in Ohio to launch the campaign. Gosh, I thought there were a lot of really competent agencies here in Massachusetts that could have created this marketing effort?


Anonymous said...

Just a clarification: Janice Loux has been on the MBTA Board for over 10 years. In June Patrick reappointed her for another term. While she is not "new" she is certainly complicit in the current financial troubles of the MBTA.

Adron said...

Not sure how Boston beat out Portland on that measure. Housing, transit, and other costs are pretty low ball cheap here.

Anonymous said...

Nice to see a more classy "BadTransit" here. Unfortunately BadTransit has neither the free time nor strong stomach to keep up with all the stench.

I do hope that you, and your readers, will keep in mind that the political nonsense swirling around the T is as old as the Berkshire hills. However, if one wishes to pinpoint the blame, all you need do is look at who in the MBTA universe benefits from its continued existence.

We can knock a few folks off this list, principally commuters and taxpayers. This leaves the state government patronage machine, the unions, and the old time hacks who have, even before Billy Bulger, infested the "authority", stuck their fangs into a revenue stream, and sucked for all they were worth.

Grabauskas will eventually have to go. The T will get a new funding "scheme" (yes, this is how tellingly it is tagged). And things will go on, pretty much unchanged from the way it has almost always been.

Is there a way out? Most certainly. It will involve a fully-informed public (do not expect the Globe or Herald to do the job) severely pressuring the state legislature, and it will take a few courageous leaders who have the balls and who are not "connected" to up-end 10 Park Plaza, clean out the decades of belly button lint, and start again.

The major transportation advocacy groups are not on board. They'd rather continue to "work with" the T. I suggest that it's unworkable - and the evidence for this is long and solid.

Hopefully, this blog will advocate for something beyond another "Rider oversight committee" or worse "suggestion box".

Yours in BadTransit,

Mark Richards